Richard Jarecki died in July 2018, after living a truly remarkable life. While what he did would be impossible to do today at a secure mobile casino, during the 1960s he made millions by tracking and predicting the results on Roulette tables at land based casinos. Physical imperfections in the wheels made the ball more likely to hit certain numbers and the brilliant Jarecki, whose family settled in the USA after fleeing Nazi Germany, was able to figure out which panels these were.
Born Into Privilege
Jarecki was born in 1931 to a shipping heiress and a dermatologist. When Hitler came to power, the family fortune was seized and they left Germany, ultimately settling in the USA. Brilliant even as a teenager, young Richard retained statistics and numbers as he frequently won money from his friends in Bridge, Skat, Rummy and other games.
After growing up in New Jersey, Jarecki’s impressive intelligence won him a place at Duke University, from there he returned to Germany, where he attended the University of Heidelberg and earned his medical degree in 1958. Back in the USA, he became one of the world’s leading medical researchers in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and married his wife Carol in 1964.
The Esteemed Professor
In 1967, Richard and Carol moved to Germany, where he studied electrophoresis. His obsession with Roulette had begun by now, and he spent a lot of his spare time at casinos. His professional reputation continued to soar, and he never actually gambled – for Jarecki, the point was not to win money; it was to learn how to beat the wheel and play the perfect game.
Jarecki’s Winning Strategy
While still living in the USA, the doctor noticed that Roulette wheels were not replaced, as cards and dice were, at the end of each night. They were too expensive, and casino proprietors could not afford new ones on such a regular basis. Often they were used for decades, and as a result showed extreme wear and tear.
Jarecki realised that the wheels’ tiny defects, like chips, dents and scratches, could cause them to move in certain ways so that the ball hit some numbers more frequently than others. Together with Carol and a small team of trackers, he spent hours manually tracking tens of thousands of spins, and then checking them to find statistical abnormalities.
As his wife puts it, this technique was one that he perfected rather than invented. The approach was definitely not new and had been successfully used, in less refined forms, by Joseph Jagger, Albert Hibbs and Roy Walford, Helmut Berlin and many others. However, nobody achieved as many wins as Dr Jarecki.
When Jarecki Made His Move
When Jarecki finally felt confident enough to bet on the results of a Roulette game, he was still living in the USA. He managed to scrape $100 together, and turned this into $5000 within hours. The 50x takings made his certain that it was time to raise the stakes.
After his move to Germany the hours of data compilation, along with the prestige of being a renowned scientist, the lower house edge of European wheels and the success of his earlier foray into Roulette combined to boost his confidence.
Once he’d established which wheels were biased, Jarecki approached a Swiss financier and secured a loan of £25,000. He spent the next 6 months perfecting his strategy, and finished with a profit of £625,000 – which is about $6,7 million today. He used this to buy a luxury apartment close to Italy’s palatial San Remo Casino, where he won even more.
“A Menace” to Casinos
This is how Jarecki was described by a casino owner after he $48,000 in 3 days and $192,000 over a single weekend at the San Remo establishment. Amounting to about $360,000 and $1,4 million, respectively in modern terms, the massive wins prompted a 15-day ban from Casino San Remo. The night he returned, he took $100,000, which is $717,000 today.
Jarecki became quite a celebrity, and crowds would descend on a casino when he arrived to play. Many gamblers would also imitate the bets he placed, causing establishments to lose even more money. Proprietors tried to rearrange the wheels in order to outfox him, but he knew their scratches, discolouration and other flaws so well that this never worked.
Jarecki’s total winnings were $1,25 million, equivalent to $8 million now, between 1964 and 1969. He publicly claimed that a supercomputer told him which numbers to pick, so that he could continue his ruse. Eventually, the only way San Remo was able to bring the world’s best Roulette player down was to replace all their wheels!
Concluding a Fabulous Life
The Jarecki family moved back to the USA in 1974 and Richard became a very successful commodities trader. The last 3 decades of his life were spent in Manila, where he enjoyed the lifestyle and the casinos. Several illustrious family members, including a son who was a child chess prodigy, and a brother who is a billionaire psychiatrist and trader, survive him. Fierce intelligence seems to be in the Jarecki genes!